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Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case 204

NormalVisual writes "'It's a really tough time to be a patent owner', said Soverain Software, LLC president Katharine Wolanyk, after the Supreme Court refused to hear their appeal after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit invalidated three of Soverain's shopping cart patents. Soverain had sued Newegg for allegedly infringing the patents in question, and had won in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Newegg later had the decision overturned on appeal, with the court ruling that the patents in question were obvious, and thus invalid."
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Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Newegg Patent Case

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:04PM (#45946283)

    for the good of all humanity and the advancement of ideas in general

    • Wow. Tough room.

    • So the patent office was forced to be self supporting. Their income is from patent applications. They get more applications if people have more reason to believe a patent will be granted. Therefore, they have every reason to define "novel" as "gee, I didn't think of that! gosh!" and grant a patent. This encourages the next hundred applications to come pouring in. We could fix most of the problems by making sure an invention had to be actually novel, before granting the patent. Shopping cart? Not so
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... to the District Court in Eastern Texas.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:14PM (#45946355) Journal

      ... to the District Court in Eastern Texas.

      Except the value of doing massive amounts of patent-related litigation... It's the white-collar equivalent of those little shithole towns where prisons are the engine of economic life.

      • This is the equivalent of certain other counties in State courts where class actions were being filed, courts that were VERY friendly to the plaintiff's bar.

        CAFA [the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, 28 U.S.C. ss 1332(d), 1453, and 1711–1715] stopped hometown litigation. It brought any action under FRCP 23 [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (deals with class actions)] into federal court and brought a level playing field to the area of the law.

        Since there is so much money involved in patents, having

        • Since there is so much money involved in patents, having a separate court system [like the bankruptcy court] might make that area of the law more fair.

          It would most likely either be more fair, or less. I say lets try it. If it is worse, it will encourage further changes.

        • This is what the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was supposed to have done.


          It's FAR FAR worse than the district courts. It's responsible for a LOT (if not most) of the patent problems we have now including and not restricted to business process patents.

        • by Kaenneth ( 82978 )

          I'm going to repeat my suggestion, that federal civil cases be assigned by lottery to a random federal court, so there is no 'venue shopping'

          • by nomadic ( 141991 )
            That would be horrific to the parties involved; someone trying to recover under a contract in New York should have to go to Hawaii? Litigation is expensive enough without multiplying the cost like that.
  • Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Huntr ( 951770 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:07PM (#45946305)
    "It's a really tough time to be a patent troll."
  • by Jody Bruchon ( 3404363 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:09PM (#45946319)
    This kind of thing should never exist in the first place. Why should anyone be given a government-created monopoly on "present a list of what you want and hand over money to get it?" I understand if you invent a tangible contraption, but for a basic function of any website that sells products? No way!
    • I paid for a subscription to Patent Office Times, and just like on /., I can see articles in the future.

      The next story out of the pipeline involves Google's patent for tangible contraption.

    • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:28PM (#45946457) Journal

      I will keep suggesting:

      1. If it's done in the real world, a simulation or work-alike is not patentable per se.

      2. If it's done over a hardline network, doing it wirelessly is not patentable.

      3. If it's done on a PC, doing it on a tablet or phone or (tbd) is not inherently patentable.

      This is not to say clever implementations could not be patented, but merely changing venue (device, network type, or making a simulation of a real-world thing) is in no way innovative in an obvious sense.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:44PM (#45946583)

        That's not a problem for the trolls.

        See, I have the patent on doing X using a phone line. Now that the world has moved on, I can enforce my patent on more and more things thanks to the Doctrine of Equivalents. The internet is just like a phone line. Wireless is just like a phone line. It's totally the same thing, so even though I lacked the foresight or imagination or inventiveness to write these options into my patent, I deserve to continue to receive patent protection against these products created by other people using newfangled modern technology that I was just too busy resting on my laurels and years of patent protection to bother to invent.

        -- PanIP, the original ecommerce patent troll, which held the internet hostage thanks to a patent on selling real estate (or anything like that) over a phone line (or anything like that) using a data processing terminal associated with the selling institution (or not associated, as the case may be).

        Eliminating the Doctrine of Equivalents will go a LOOOONG way towards restoring fairness to the patent process. If my product does not match word for word your patent, then you picked the wrong words.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by shentino ( 1139071 )

          Funny thing is that this so called Doctrine of Equivalents should also bring in a shitload of prior art if someone tries to tack on "on the internet" or "on a computer" to a previously patented invention.

          • Doctrine of Equivalents does not apply to prior art. Prior art has to be exact. If they were as persnickety about finding infringement as they were about finding prior art, the problem would be much less. If they were as expansive about ruling something non-novel or non-obvious based on prior art as they are about finding infringement, the problem would be much, much less.

            But instead it's novel and non-obvious if no one has described the exact same thing using the exact same words. But contrariwise, som

      • Oh good, a very simple sounding solution that uses weasel words like "per se" and a followup weasel statement.

        You have to realize, surely, that if you can't quantify the "per se" and "clever" parts in less than a thousand words, it would be impossible to write such limits into law in less than that number of words.

        The simple act of defining patent trolls, while avoiding being unfair to entities such as universities and individual investors who have no time nor desire to go into production just to have prote

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:12PM (#45946341) Journal
    In solidarity with Katharine's plight, I've agreed to grant her a limited, nonexclusive, non-transferable right to the use of 'Apparatus and method for implementation of a dimensionally unique violin and play of the same' and ASCAP is offering a generous discount on the usual rate for public performance of the world's saddest song.
  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:25PM (#45946429)

    I think monkeys just flew out of my ass.

  • by WCMI92 ( 592436 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:25PM (#45946431) Homepage

    ...Needs to be burned to the ground, the judges impeached, and the earth it sits on SALTED!

    • Texas courts have been know to be patent troll friendly.
      • by WCMI92 ( 592436 )

        It's not the Texas courts (ie: Texas). It's the FEDERAL judges that were nominated by Presidents for that district.

        The state and locality has NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

    • In fairness, I doubt the local farmers know anything about the details. Lets just send all the lawyers in that county to a re-education camp.

      • by WCMI92 ( 592436 )

        If anyone should go to forced labor re-education camps it should be lawyers IN GENERAL.

  • The patents are invalid. There can be no infringement.

    They should be forced to give back all the money they've undoubtedly extorted from other companies in out of court settlements before Newegg stood up to them.

  • I'm sure piles of shit have kids to feed and bills to pay, but they make it so hard to feel empathy for them.
  • Links to Patents (Score:5, Informative)

    by FalleStar ( 847778 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:29PM (#45946465) Homepage
    #5715314 [] - The second most long-winded description of every online store ever.
    #5909492 [] - The most long-winded description of every online store ever, much of it seems to be copied & pasted straight from the top link.
    #7272639 [] - Describes what a session is.

    Soverain Software is just another patent troll that never should have had them assigned in the first place.
  • I patent useing the letter E on line only $0.002 a use

  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:38PM (#45946531)

    Have some weak low-quality patents, and try to, through the power of wishful thinking, extend them to cover a much broader set of techniques, then go and sue a big company with deep pockets. (Remember, this used to work, reference the suit against RIM for instance.)

  • Patent Owner (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 13, 2014 @09:40PM (#45946551)

    Notice how Katharine Wolanyk characterized her company as a "patent owner"?

    Funny that she did not say "online retailor", "online wholesaler", manufacturer, logistics, refiner, service provider, software publisher, etc. Instead they are a "patent owner".

    Patents should be viewed the way most businesspeople view lawyers. A necessary evil. Too expensive, wasteful, a time sink. They exist primarily because not having them is worse. However never, never should they be your primary business. Unless you are a legal firm of course.

    "Patent owner". You might as well say "shoe wearer" or "food liker"! Where's the value added in that?

    • Patents should be viewed the way most businesspeople view lawyers. A necessary evil. Too expensive, wasteful, a time sink.

      Yeah, that's how we attorneys get most of our expensive business litigation cases. Business owners ignore legal counsel until they are in WAY too deep over their heads. Attorneys are like business consultants, but usually more important. Failing to seek and heed legal counsel is the number one cause of giant expensive messes for small and medium businesses. Large businesses and well-run medium ones don't have this problem, because they use their legal counsel to guide their decision-making appropriately

      • The point of the patent system (as I understand it at least) is to ensure that information doesn't get lost. Thus, rather than keeping things as trade secrets (where information could get lost if the wrong people died) they make the information public in return for a limited monopoly.

        Given the above, if I independently (without seeing the patent) invent something, how is it at all rational or logical that I should pay someone else because they happened to have done it first? That doesn't serve the above g

        • Unfortunately some people are so greedy that copyright protection isn't enough incentive for them to make their ideas public.

          In this case, I would also opine that the idea isn't worth its cost anymore.

        • by nomadic ( 141991 )
          "The point of the patent system (as I understand it at least) is to ensure that information doesn't get lost."

          Nah, the purpose of the patent system is to encourage invention.
      • Failing to seek and heed legal counsel is the number one cause of giant expensive messes for small and medium businesses.

        Funnily enough seeking legal council every time you do anything is very expensive. If you start that way you'll never make it up to being a medium sized business becase you'll spend all your money on lawyers and none on doing business.

        At some point you have to make a judgement over whether it's worth seeking counsel or not.

  • if newegg stopped trying to be a ghetto amazon so I dont have to waste time filtering down to just newegg. But it doesnt matter, the last 3 orders I have bought from them were screwed up, and it took nearly 3 months to get some VGA cables, so fuck-em anyway I dont have the time or patience for their crap anymore

    • I've never had a bad experience with their third party sellers, probably because I check a single checkbox on the sidebar to show only products sold by Newegg. There is no drilling at all, any time you click on search options, they get added to your options in the sidebar, and with one click you can narrow your search at any time.

      If you're in a hurry, don't aim for the lowest price. If I want the lowest price on cables, I buy from ebay where it says "mailed directly from Hong Kong" and they show up in 3-30

      • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

        I was in a hurry, that is why I checked from newegg, they left them out, I sent an email, no response, 3 months later a china box shows up with 2 vga cables in it

        that order was a handfull of accessories totaling almost a grand (know how many USB hubs and wifi cards that is) and the vga cables were "eh while I am here grab them"

    • Never had a problem...

  • Boo fucking hoo, you damned troll.

  • by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:53PM (#45947537) Journal

    Back in the day, software was not patentable as it was treated akin to a mathematical formula. The one patent I was aware of was a patent Atari snuck through by designing a circuit that XOR'ed a bit pattern to change the color a TV was displaying to avoid burn in. They patented the circuit and tucked a sentence into the patent that said they also claimed any implementation in software as well but the primary patent was for the circuit. We relied on copyright protection and pretty much ignored patents. Then the Supreme Court made a few rulings that opened the door to the possibility of patenting software.

    Following up on the rulings, the Patent Office embarked on a series of "hearings" held around the country ostensibly to see whether it was a good idea to patent software or not. This was sometime in the early 90's. Towards the end of their tour, they finally brought their dog and pony show to San Jose.

    Literally, almost *EVERY* developer testified that it was a really bad idea. The one exception that I recall was some idiot with a beauty salon app that would show you what you would look like with various hair styles. The rest of the developers said "No. We don't want this - it's a really, really, bad idea." Several developers made the point that we weren't constrained by a paucity of ideas as much as choosing which ideas to implement well.

    The other group that was there in some numbers were attorneys - I recall Borland sent their corporate attorney. To a man, the attorneys all testified in favor of the idea.

    Towards the end of the testimony, one of the developers pointed out the fact that the only people who seemed to like the idea were the attorneys. At which point, the Patent Office person (can't remember his name but iirc he headed the department at the time.) grinned and said something to the effect that the attorneys tended to get their way.

    And they did. The people whom patents ostensibly protected were ignored in favor of the attorneys.

  • by ugen ( 93902 ) on Monday January 13, 2014 @11:54PM (#45947559)

    There is no such thing as "patent owner". You could be "patent holder" - in that you hold it at the pleasure of the public which allows you to do so for the public good. Nice term substitution there.

  • It's getting harder and harder to live off the work of others by abusing patents as blackmail devices?

    Let's hope so.

  • "'It's a really tough time to be a patent TROLL'


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.